Blue Financial Service, the micro-lending outfit trading under Blue Employee Benefits in Botswana, is to list on the Botswana Stock Exchange mid this month, bringing the number of micro-lending companies on the local bourse to two, sources said last week.
The company, which was listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) in October 2006, said it is targeting Botswana to enhance its financial muscle across the African continent.
“There is a lot of cash in Botswana that is the more reason why we would like to list there,” the company’s spokesperson told The Sunday Standard in a telephone interview from South Africa.
Blue Financial Services has operations in Botswana, South Africa and Zambia and it is also planning to open other branches in Cameroon, Kenya and Uganda as it strives to expand across the Africa continent.
The pro-poor organization, with a raft of financial products, said its initiatives are aligned with the objectives of NEPAD (New Economic Partnership for Africa).
“By riding the current of the newly emerging middle-class in South Africa and neighbouring countries, Blue has opened previously untapped markets in the financial sector by providing legitimate financial solutions to those who previously were denied access to the market,” the company said.
“Blue has found that traditional banking systems and banks as a whole in the African environment are not as advanced electronically as their peers in other areas of the globe, and they are not addressing a broad range of the needs of their customers.
“Sub-Saharan banks are very risk averse and, as such, many employers are forced to become involved in providing housing to their staff or providing benefits or credit that their personnel can not obtain elsewhere,” it added.
The provision of financial services in countries like Botswana, where close to 60 percent of the working people are said to be unbanked, is a critical factor as that population is shunned by the traditional banks.
The company is one of the major players in Botswana’s micro-finance with two other major ones being the Botswana Stock Exchange listed Letshego Holdings and Penrich Employee Benefits. The company is already tapping on government’s liberalization policy which is geared towards automatic deduction of salaries from source, which used to be tightly controlled.
Among some of the products which are being provided by the company are home improvements, funeral insurance, salary advances, pension and provident funds, payroll solutions and cellular solutions.
It said one of the biggest markets that it is serving includes that of South Africa, which is littered with a number of players but with a risk averse attitudes.